Medical cannabis reimbursements for Canadian veterans rise to CA$167 million

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Medical cannabis reimbursements by Veterans Affairs Canada in the 2022-23 fiscal year recorded an all-time high, according to the latest figures.

However, annual growth of those reimbursements as measured in dollars reached a multiyear low, indicating that growth in the category is slowing substantially.

Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) is the federal department responsible for benefits and services for retired and serving Canadian Armed Forces members.

In the 2022-23 fiscal year ended March 31, VAC reimbursed 21,108 people a total of 167.6 million Canadian dollars ($122.6 million) for medical cannabis products, the agency’s figures show.

The 2022-23 reimbursements are slightly higher than those from 2021-22, when 18,388 people were reimbursed CA$153.8 million.

Though the amount reimbursed rose 9% year-over-year, annual growth hit a new low in the most recent year.

Annual growth of medical cannabis reimbursements in previous years was:

  • 13.8% between 2018-19 and 2019-20.
  • 40% between 2019-20 and 2020-21.
  • 28.9% between 2020-21 and 2021-22.

Medical cannabis reimbursements to veterans have been rising steadily as overall spending on the drug has been declining since 2018 – when Canada launched a regulated recreational market.

Partly because of that trend, reimbursements for veterans have been accounting for a greater share of Canada’s overall medical cannabis spending, meaning the sector is increasingly reliant on government reimbursements.

That’s noteworthy for businesses because any change to the way the Canadian government reimburses cannabis for veterans could have a major impact on the broader market.

In 2018-19, veterans reimbursements made up 12.7% of all medical cannabis expenditures in Canada. The following year, it was 14.5%.

In 2020-21, veterans reimbursements made up almost one-quarter (23.8%) of Canada’s medical cannabis expenditures, followed by 35.3% in 2021-22.

In the most recent fiscal year, April 2022-March 2023, veterans reimbursements accounted for 42.4% of Canada’s expenditures on medical marijuana, data from Statistics Canada and VAC shows.

Matt Lamers can be reached at